Monday, 2 May 2016

Finishing Line

As far as 1970s Public info films go, The Finishing Line has to be the most overlooked and hard hitting of them all. View it here and draw your own conclusions.
In 1977, a short film was produced in Britain to discourage children from playing on the railway lines and vandalizing trains—both problems in England at the time. But the documentary-style production did more than that: it scared the knickers off of kids and riled up their parents. The subsequent controversy surrounding this educational short was so great that it was ultimately banned. Even today, watching it is a shocking experience not soon forgotten.

Commissioned by British Transport Films (BTF) to be shown in schools, The Finishing Line (1977) is perhaps the most notorious educational film ever produced. The 20 minute short is akin to a gory episode of The Twilight Zone, or a Rod Serling-directed fake documentary. The atmosphere is so odd and the child body count so high, that it’s a wonder anyone thought this was a good idea to show to kids (the ages of the target audience was eight through twelve). Put simply, it’s a child’s nightmare come to life on the screen.
The film was directed by John Krish, a BTF veteran; Krish’s The Elephant Will Never Forget (1953), which documented the end of London’s tram system, is still one of the organization’s most popular movies. In a 2013 interview with the magazine devoted to blood spilled on the screen, Fangoria, the 90-year-old Krish said he was surprised BTF even wanted to make The Finishing Line:
I came up with this idea of a sports day on the railway line, and I was absolutely sure they would turn it down so that I could get on with something else, and bugger me, they loved it. They loved it! The psychologist in the British Transport’s employ said, ‘This is exactly what we need!’

Monday, 25 April 2016


SPIRIT DUPLICATOR is a new small press specialising in unusual publications, including THE BRITISH ESPERANTIST, the mix tape for books that regularly compiles a hundred years of print history in one slim volume. Find out more here . It's not hauntology, it's the thing after.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Tyneham Village

On the 19th of December 1943 225 people from 102 properties were evacuated from the Dorset village of Tyneham. The decision was taken by Churchill's War Office which was in need of a training area for troops to prepare for DDay.
In order to give our troops the fullest opportunity to perfect their training in the use of modern weapons of war, the Army must have an area of land particularly suited to their special needs and in which they can use live shells. For this reason you will realise the chosen area must be cleared of all civilians.

The most careful search has been made to find an area suitable for the army's purpose and which, at the same time, will involve the smallest number of persons and property. The area decided on, after the most careful study and consultation between all the Government Authorities concerned, lies roughly inside of the square formed by EAST LULWORTH EAST STOKE EAST HOLME KIMMERIDGE BAY.

It is regretted that, in the National Interest, it is necessary to move you from your homes, and everything possible will be done to help you, both by payment of compensation, and by finding other accommodation for you if you are unable to do so yourself.
The date on which the military will take over this area is the 19th December next, and all civilians must be out of the area by that date.
Southern Command 16/11/1943
The residents of the village always expected to return after the war but sadly never did. This was due to the location of the village within the firing range/training area The Lulworth range.Which is still used by the army to this day.
So its on a sunny but slightly cold day in March that I find myself driving along a very steep and narrow road/track through the Army's Lulworth Range trying to find Tyneham village. To get to Tyneham you must take the A351 road to Swanage, just past Wareham make a right down Grange Rd and then follow the signs for Tyneham, but be warned it can get a bit bumpy and quite steep on the approach to Tyneham. Once there the car park is only £2 and is quite spacious.
On the day I was there the ground was very muddy with some very large puddles so keep some boots in the car, just in case. As you wander around and drift in and out of the deserted houses you really do get a sense of sadness at what was once a very busy but now lost village. In most of the buildings there are storyboards explaining who lived in each building, and how long they had lived there. The storyboards do add to the feeling of loss for these people/families that had lived there for over 200 years. That said it is not all doom and gloom. There are very heartwarming stories as well; like the excitement in 1929 about the arrival of the Telephone box. Up to then the only phone in the village was in the back room of the Post Office which had been installed in the 1st World War. "According to folklore Tyneham has many ghosts. More than one person has claimed to hear the old telephone in the phonebox ringing". Another lovely story is that of the stage that was constructed in the Tyneham village barn so that plays and pantomimes could be put on for the villagers. As time went by the shows and gatherings were so successful that people would come from as faraway as Wareham and Swanage to watch these shows. Sadly this all stopped in 1914 after the outbreak of the 1st World War.

Deep in the woods is The old 16th centruy Tyneham Manor House, this is not accessible to the public. The house slowly fell into disrepair many years ago due to bad construction, weather, vandals and ricocheting bullets. There really is so much to take in as you stroll round the village and surrounding woods, I will certainly be heading that way again in the summer. I should say that if you do decide to visit then check the opening times on the Tyneham website. As the village is only open at certain times of the year, due to the Army blowing things up on the near by range.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Houses and Homes

From the same series as Concrete, though they'd dropped the "Children's University" tag by the time this one appeared in 1980.  Written and illustrated by Heinz Kurth.

Note the internet prediction near the end, with the button-heavy control panel and reel-to-reel tape deck.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Digital Music In The Home, pt 1.44 - HOURS and HOURS...

Found in a box of bits during a recent tidy-up.  It's a wee doo-dad that turned a Commodore Amiga into a SAMPLER, which was massively exciting back in 1994 when I first got hold of one.  It came with software to edit and add effects to soundwaves, and a simple but brilliant tracker, which for usability and immediacy pisses on anything I've seen since:

Did anyone else here fritter away hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours dicking about with one of these, or similar (the Atari ST was the other one, wasn't it)? 

This quote from Rob Playford, talking about producing Goldie's 'Timeless', will probably strike a chord with fellow sample prodders:

"The breakbeat is actually made up of two mono files on the sampler, which I adjusted separately, so that when I stuck them together, I had the break riding up and spinning around in the stereo soundfield. It sounded like nothing we'd ever heard, it was a revelation -- we listened to that for hours and hours." 

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Colorado gold rush ghost town revisited

At the height of the Colorado gold rush, the city of Victor, high up in the Rocky Mountains, had a population of more than 18,000 people. The gold and the prospectors are now long gone, but the town remains - along with a few hundred residents. Photographers, Jonathan Anderson and Edwin Low have collaborated as Anderson and Low for twenty-five years. Their haunting photographs of Victor feature in a new book, "City of Mines"
Jonathan Anderson spoke to BBC World Update's Dan Damon about the project.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Through The Rainbow Books

Through The Rainbow books, one from  1968 and the other from 1980 both the same, well sort of. Only 12 years separates these books. And yet the images from 1968 might as well be from the 1950s. Sadly I do remember having a 1950s style teacher who did look very much like the woman in these pictures from 1968. The reason I say sadly is because I remember her with fear.........not a day went passed without a large wooden chalk board erasure or heavy book being hurled at a member of the class by her. Another particular fav was if it was raining she would make you stand outside without a coat because "if you are lucky it will wash your naughtiness away" another specialty of hers was to creep up behind you and punch (and I mean punch not slap) you on the back of your head if you were talking. I lived not far from this teacher, and everyday would see her on the way to School, where she would always smile and say good morning, and all the parents thought she was a lovely and wonderful person, but us kids in our tatty snorkel parka's knew better. On the plus side a few years later there was a rather nice chap/teacher who wore a dark green crushed velvet jacket which had leather pads on the elbows. He also had big hair a centre parting and round Lennon glasses. He would start the day by asking everyone how they were? and on a Friday morning the question would always be "who watched Top of the Pops last night?" So not all bad as it turned out. But I digress...........Through the Rainbow, a lovely series of books from a time when things where maybe not so Rainbow (apart from the TV series of course)